CHARLESTON — Tsubasacon, West Virginia’s largest convention dedicated to anime, comics, gaming and pop culture, will return to the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center from Friday-Sunday, Oct. 8-10. The annual event features shopping, gaming, discussion panels, live music and an annual costume contest called the Cosplay Masquerade.
“Our last convention was in 2019, and we had about 2,300 people in attendance. Of course, with COVID, it’s been a little bit challenging. We had to cancel last year’s convention. Now we’re trying to come back bigger than we were in 2019 with programming,” said David Richmond, vice chair of Tsubasacon. “The venue we are at follows the policy of the state. We are asking people to wear masks, but they are not mandatory. We will offer Tsubasacon branded face masks and face shields at the registration desk. We have also tried to spread out the convention a bit, including redesigning our panel rooms to make it a bit more social distancing friendly.”
This year’s convention will bring a variety of guests including several notable voice actors. Carey Means is a veteran of Western Animation. He is most famous for providing the voice of Frylock from Adult Swim’s “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” as well as Thundercleese from “The Brak Show” and Jonah Bishop from Nickelodeon’s “Welcome To The Wayne.” Mallorie Rodak is an American voice actor who is known for roles in “Fairy Tale,” “Star Blazers” and “Izetta.” Dani Chambers is a voice actress who made her anime debut in 2017 and has done voice work in “The Ancient Magus Bride” and “My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising Movie.” Finally, there’s Ricco Fajardo, who has done voice work for “My Hero Academia,” “Black Clover” and “Fire Force.”
The convention will also have plenty of gaming options from tabletop board games to the latest in video games.
“The game room will be run by Hebi Studios. They do a lot of game rooms for other conventions including San Japan in San Antonio, Texas. EGC (Electronic Gaming Conventions) will be there doing conventionally run tournaments. We will have ‘Smash Brothers Ultimate,’ ‘Mario Kart 8,’ ‘Tekken 7’ and ‘Dragon Ball FighterZ,’ ” Richmond said. “People can sign up in advance for the tournaments, but they don’t have to. We will also have a lot of mobile gaming as well.”
This year’s convention will also have an assortment of Japanese arcade games provided by Psychic Drive and a Pachinko Parlor.
This year marks the return of Kazha, a Japanese hard rock group, to the convention. The band had previously performed at Tsubasacon in 2015. Also returning to the convention are Vitamin H, a pair of professional panelists who lead discussions on a variety of topics ranging from “The Silent Hill” series of video games, to Japanese folklore to “Hot Dads of Anime.” Once again, the Carolina Manga Library will provide a free reading room offering a variety of both Japanese comics (manga) and American comic books to read.
“I think the Cosplay Masquerade is a must-see event for anyone who has never been to the convention before. We also have a new event, a flea market, on Sunday. It’s going to be like the swap meet we had at the Natsu No Tsubasacon picnics. People can bring their old manga, DVDs, etc., and swap it or sell it,” Richmond said. “We are bringing back our tabletop gaming. We have also expanded the artist alley. Of course, our vendor room is always popular.”
Tickets to Tsubasacon are available for pre-order. There will be an early badge pickup event from 8-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, in the lobby of the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center. The convention opens its doors at 10 a.m. with opening ceremonies kicking off at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8. The convention will continue from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. Saturday. On Sunday the convention will continue through closing ceremonies at 4 p.m. While the event is family-friendly, an ID will be required for some late-night activities. For online registration and more information, visit https://tsubasacon.org. A full schedule of events can also be found on the Grenadine app.